The Highlands and Islands may be a tourism magnet at present, but how do we attract the next generation of visitors to the area?


A new project launched by the Highlands and Islands Tourism Awards (HITA) aims to find new and innovative ways to market the region in a way that appeals to younger people.


In partnership with Inverness College UHI, HITA has challenged Visual Design and Communication students to produce a strategy specifically aimed at inspiring future travellers.

The contest, being held as part of the Year of Young People, is looking for creative ideas and attractions for a target audience aged between between eight and 26.


Students will be asked to make the designs and branding transferrable across social media, digital, print and broadcast platforms, as well as new ways to engage with future visitors.

The top three entries will present their ideas to the judging panel and the winner will have their campaign showcased at the prestigious HITA awards ceremony, to be held this year on 2 November at the 4-star Kingsmills Hotel, Inverness.


In addition, a student from Inverness College UHI’s drama department will be chosen to host the awards ceremony – the annual tourism ‘Oscars’ for the area – alongside a professional presenter in a first for the event.


Drama students shortlisted by the department will submit a video to HITA demonstrating their presenting skills and the lucky winner will jointly compere the awards evening in front of more than 320 leading industry professionals from across the Highlands and Islands and beyond.

HITA chairman Craig Ewan said: “This is an exciting challenge for the students and one that will give the industry fresh ideas for engaging with tomorrow’s visitors.


“We want innovative designs that are transferrable across all traditional media platforms, as well as other ways we can market the area. They must be relevant and inspiring to the next generation of visitor and its theme, style and messaging should all reflect the Highlands and Islands.


“We are also looking for young, talented individual to co-present the awards ceremony. Who knows, this could be a platform for a new career for someone.”


Rachel Burgess, a lecturer on the Visual Communication and Design BA Honours degree at Inverness College UHI, part of the University of the Highlands and Islands, said: “Our links with the community and partnerships with industry are key to the student experience at Inverness College UHI.


“This is a fantastic project for our students to be involved in and an amazing opportunity to showcase their talents and make a real difference to the tourism sector in the Highlands.”


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